NYC’s energy skills funding and IBM’s renewables accelerator: The sustainability success stories of the week

Published every week, this series charts how businesses and sustainability professionals are working to achieve their ‘Mission Possible’ across the campaign’s five key pillars – energy, resources, infrastructure, mobility and business leadership.

News of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has weighed heavy on hearts and minds this week, including in the environmental space, where it is appreciated that peace is necessary for sustainable development. Nonetheless, good progress is being made, with businesses, cities, states and regions turning environmental ambitions into action. Here, we round up five positive sustainability stories from this week.

ENERGY: New York launches £18m reskilling fund to help grow clean energy sector

New York’s State Energy Plan targets a 40% reduction in energy-related emissions by 2030, against a 1990 baseline. Key to delivering this ambition will be ensuring that 70% energy generation is from renewable sources – a target that was increased from 50% back in 2020.

To support the delivery of new renewable energy generation, the State has this month launched a new $25m fund to be spent on upskilling and reskilling. Those working in the fossil fuel sector and at risk of displacement will receive funding, as will community colleges, which will be encouraged to offer courses to disadvantaged people eand encourage them to enter the energy sector.

“This is the first-of-its-kind public-private statewide collaborative that reflects a joint commitment from government, industry, labour, education, manufacturing and community-based organisations to prepare individuals from disadvantaged communities for New York’s clean energy transition,” said State Governor Kathy Hochul.

RESOURCES: Catercall scales circular economy partnership

UK-based firm Catercall, which provides services to the operators of commercial kitchens, this week confirmed that it will be expanding a partnership with Ramco – which specializes in cleaning, repairing and reselling used business equipment.

Catercall first worked with Ramco to prevent large gas kettles from a prison from going to landfill and has now expanded the partnership to help recirculate items including other catering equipment, IT equipment, electronics, and catering equipment monitors.

Catercall’s operations manager Richard Jeffrys said the expansion of the partnership has helped the business to “rethink its approach to disposal and reuse”.

MOBILITY: Teesdale gets its first rapid EV chargers

Electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure has featured heavily in the headlines this month, with trade organisations imploring the UK Government to be ambitious in the development of its EV Infrastructure Strategy. And, on the consumer side, the current hike in petrol and diesel prices could well be enough to nudge many currently thinking about purchasing an EV to make the switch.

A success story in this space comes from rapid charging company Fastned, which has opened a new station in Barnard Castle which it claims is the first of its kind in Teesside. The station features six rapid chargers which can add up to 100 miles of charge to an EV within 30 minutes.

Fastned said in a statement that it had chode the location due to a 45% year-on-year increase in EV registrations in North East England in 2021, as well as a 20% increase in tourist numbers for Barnard Castle in 2021, compared with 2019.

“It is great to see both the public and private sector working towards improving the county’s EV infrastructure to make it more accessible for residents who use EVs,” said Durham County Council’s cabinet member for neighbourhoods and climate change Cllr Mark Wilkes.

THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT: Developer of new Essex homes promises zero energy bills

With the price cap on the UK’s domestic dual-fuel energy bills set to increase by 54% in April, calls have been intensifying for tighter energy efficiency standards for new builds and greater government support to retrofit existing homes.

It is timely, then, that developer ilke homes has promised zero energy bills for the residents of a new property it is set to install in Stanford-Le-Hope, Essex. The two-storey home will be built off site at the firm’s factory in North Yorkshire, then installed in one piece. It will be fitted with ultra-modern insulation, LED lighting rooftop solar and battery energy storage technology. There will be no gas connection; the home will use an air-source heat pump.

Ilke Homes has trialled these modular homes in London, Newcastle, Sunderland, Gateshead and Newark and is now seeking partners to roll them out more widely. It is targeting the delivery of 1,000 of the homes annually.

BUSINESS LEADERSHIP: IBM launches accelerator scheme to support developers of clean energy in developing nations

While the global clean energy market weathered the pandemic more strongly than the fossil fuel sector, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has warned that clean energy efforts in developing nations struggled more than those in wealthy countries, and that this gap will need to be addressed urgently to keep the delivery of international climate commitments in reach.

IBM has, therefore, formally launched its sustainability accelerator programme in earnest after a trial in 2021. The business is asking non-profit organisations and developing nations and regions to submit applications to receive assistance with their clean energy programmes by the end of April.

Members of the accelerator programme will work with IBM to develop roadmaps for designing, deploying and improving tech-based solutions for their schemes. They will get access to IBM’s services and products in fields including big data, artificial intelligence and cloud computing.

“We believe that the power of science, technology and innovation can help tackle environmental issues while serving vulnerable communities exposed to environmental hazards,” said IBM’s vice president of CSR and ESG Justina Nixon.

“By pairing expertise and technology with the goal of improving the lives of populations most affected by environmental threats, we have the potential to make lasting, scalable impact.”

Sarah George

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